In the lead up to xx minifest we shall be posting teaser extracts of writing from our artists so that you can see how great they are and remember to buy tickets. Today we have an extract from Alexandra Claire’s cautionary dystopian novel Random Walk (Gomer, 2011):
Osian pulled his focus over the cutting angles of the roofs of the Grid and made his vision race to see how quickly he could follow the maze of lines. His gaze was caught for a moment by what he took to be an animal, leaping from one roof to another. He scanned the roofs to find where it had gone. It was unusual to see an animal. Most had been eaten long ago. Even the pigeons were all gone. Plucked, stewed and eaten. Osian had once heard the bark of a dog. It must have strayed in from outside the city in search of food. The bark had been followed by a pitiful howl and Osian had run back into the house and cwtched up with his Grancha. Even the sound of the Box was better than that howl of pain and the knowledge that the dog was now dead.
Osian saw another flicker of movement. He squinted and leaned further out of the window. The figure was getting closer now, scaling down a wall and onto the ledge of a balcony. It swung out from the railings. It looked like a man. A man running, jumping from building to building like a cat.
Osian opened his bedroom window and slipped out, dropping down into the small tight alley behind the house, out of sight of the camera. He wanted to get closer to the man-cat. He ran tight along the walls of the Grid, craning his neck upward to keep him in view. He paid no heed to the direction in which he travelled; his only concern was the hunt for the man-cat. He ran up concrete stairways and jumped over iron railings. He felt escape, danger, freedom and possibility and he forgot about his Grancha’s lies. He dived through straggly hedgerows, pounded over dried-out dusty ground and ran through yards filled with washing, hanging out to dry on old cables, stretched out from wall to wall. His heart beat hard against his ribs and he laughed out loud. It was in one of these yards that he lost sight of the man-cat.
He turned around, looking at the roof tops that encircled him. Nothing. Then it occurred to him that there was something unusual about this place; there were no cameras. There was a Transmitter, high up on the roof of the tallest block, but there were no cameras. Osian’s arms were bare and the sun was beginning to burn him. He looked at the buildings closely, tall cracked towers with crumbling windows and doorways. There were no trees, no glass, no window-frames. Everything of use or value had been stripped away, only the cables for the washing remained. He searched frantically for an exit from the crowding towers. What if he never got out? What if the Junkies got him? What would his Grancha do when he found out he’d run away and, even worse, had gone to Block C? Osian pulled air in through his nostrils and closed his eyes; if he closed his eyes, it wasn’t happening.
A large pair of hands came to rest upon his shoulders. The boy kept his eyes squeezed shut and prayed that it was, and that it wasn’t, his Grancha come to rescue him. He slowly opened his eyes. And there, right there, close to his face, he met with the eyes of the man-cat.
‘Brave New World meets Big Brother meets The Road – this is a future world both strangely familiar and edgily strange.’ – Jon Gower
Alex will be appearing at the Cardiff Literary Salon session of xx in Chapter Theatre, Sat 27 October 2012, 7.30pm, £4. See our full programme: https://xxwales.wordpress.com/2012-programme/
Alexandra Claire: Born and brought up in Cardiff and an alumnus of London Contemporary Dance School, Claire began to write short stories in 2005 and has been published by Parthian, Honno and the Western Mail. Her debut novel, Random Walk, was published by Gomer Press in 2011.